As recounted in the description of my first exploration journey, I had travelled in a decently equipped Asp Explorer. For the next journey, though, I wanted to improve some of the modules, most importantly I wanted a class A frame shift drive so that I would be able to make longer hyperspace jumps. To earn the necessary credits, I decided to check out how Power Play works.
I decided to join Aisling Duval, partly because of her looks (being in the mid-forties does not prevent me from being juvenile sometimes :-)) but mainly because the actions required from her followers seemed to be the least warlike. Banning slavery, which is part of her ethos, also appealed to me, which is kind of contradictory, after all I had (and still have) no qualms smuggling slaves, weapons and narcotics to earn fast credits.
My goal was to gain rank 4 so that I could earn 5 million per week for a couple of weeks. I figured that I would be ready for my second journey after 3 weeks or so, but in the end I think it took me 5 weeks.
In the first two weeks I floundered to get up to rank 3, while attempting to understand the Power Play rules. At times, the official documentation seemed to be obtuse by design, but luckily there are good player-written guides floating around the web which should explain everything (e.g. here and here). I didn't do much in those two weeks except sitting around, waiting for my quota of Power commodities to refill, collecting the commodities until my cargo hold was full (I had stored my Asp and switched to a Type-6 freighter for more cargo space), and then spending everything on fortifying, expanding or preparing more or less random systems that were listed in my Power's overview screen.
In week 3 I ramped up to rank 4 in just 1 day. The rest of the week I was on vacation.
In week 4 I collected my 5 million salary for the first time. I bought a Vulture and tried out various combat things, with the hope to earn some Power Play merits from underming enemy powers. However, I was disillusioned rather quickly - I just don't have the mind for all this nerve-wracking pew-pew. More interestingly, I discovered that there are player organizations related to Power Play factions outside the game, and even outside the Frontier forums. Naturally in my case I was looking at Aisling's Angels and their attempt to organize things on Reddit.
In week 5 I reached the point where I had enough money to buy a Type-7 freigher, so I had another go at trading. I tried doing a rare goods run, which was satisfying because finding a sensible route gave me something to do instead of just grinding merits. I also established a Palladium trade route, which turned out to be rather more profitable (roughly 2 million credits profit per hour) than rare goods trading, but also vastly more boring.
At the beginning of week 6 I cashed in another 5 million credits paycheck, quickly renewed my Power Play rank for the last time and then went off on my second exploration trip (see the following post). From now on I would be gradually losing my standing with Aisling Duval, but who cares for politics when he can explore the whole galaxy instead?
So that was Power Play for me.